Please welcome UK author Gary McMahon to the blog, as part of the October Scare-a-Thon series of interviews! Gary is the author of 7 novels, including the Concrete Grove Trilogy and the Thomas Usher series, and his newest book Beyond Here Lies Nothing, just came out!
Gary, you’re the author of numerous novels, all of which delve into terrifying territory. Did you always want to write? Will you tell us a bit about how you became a writer?
I’ve actually only had seven novels published, but, yes, they all examine dark themes. I didn’t always want to write: I did always write. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, even if it was just scribbling scenes or character descriptions on scraps of paper when I was a child. It’s something I’ve always done, and I never stopped hoping that one day someone would pay me to do it.
You just wrapped up your Concrete Grove Trilogy with Beyond Here Lies Nothing. What did you enjoy most about writing the trilogy?
Finishing it! I spent so long in that world, living with those characters in my head, that it was a relief to finish writing the third book and leave it alone for a while. There was a sense of loss, too, but that was tempered by the joy of being able to write about something new.
You’re known for your talent for writing chilling stories. What’s something that truly terrifies you?
Growing old. Losing my mental faculties. Losing my wife or my son. Dying. Pretty average fears, I guess, but that’s what terrifies me.
What, in your opinion, is one of the biggest differences between American and British horror?
This is a tricky question, and one that I’ve thought a lot about. To me it seems that a lot of English horror fiction is rooted in the traditional form – there’s a slow accumulation of detail, a focus on atmosphere and the psychology of characters. I’ve found that a lot of American horror is more situation-and-plot-based, and doesn’t spend a lot of time generating an atmosphere of dread. Neither style is right or wrong; both are valid. Also, this isn’t the case with all English and American horror – but it’s a handy generalisation to make because it illustrates a valid point.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Joel Lane, Rupert Thomson, Charles Bukowski. Cinema. Music. My life.
If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski. Reading that novel for the first time was a revelatory experience.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading A Book of Horrors, edited by Steve Jones, Boneland by Alan Garner, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and a few books and essays about Victorian mediums and Victorian social advances as research for a project.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
I don’t really have what I’d call free time. I’m either working the day job, spending time with my family, running, practicing karate, or writing. I do watch a lot of movies – I’m a big cinema buff. But that’s part of my routine; I see it as research rather than a way of filling spare time, and I write film reviews for a couple of websites.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share about upcoming projects and events?
I’m currently working on a novel called The Quiet Room, which is a haunted house story. Next year will see the release of a short apocalyptic novel called The End. I’ve also been commissioned by an award-winning US publisher to write a supernatural horror novel, which will be called The Bones of You. And, as always, there’ll be more short stories.
Keep up with Gary: Website | Goodreads